Fire still not out of woods after feline rescue with a twist

Fire the kitten with Vetlife Wanaka vet John Neskudla. The brown tabby was rescued by Clyde...
Fire the kitten with Vetlife Wanaka vet John Neskudla. The brown tabby was rescued by Clyde firefighters and now faces a $1200 vet bill. PHOTO: KERRIE WATERWORTH
A national appeal has been launched for a brown tabby kitten following a firefighter feline rescue with a twist.

While the kitten was not the stereotype plucked to safety from a tree, she is still not out of the woods.

Since her rescue from a metal rubbish bin in Clyde late last month, she has been in cat hospital at Vetlife in Wanaka.

Her right hind leg has been amputated and fundraising is under way to pay for her medical expenses.

The cost of the surgery and ongoing treatment is already at $1200.

She was found trapped in the bin near the Clyde Fire Station by an Alexandra firefighter.

Clyde Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Steve Gee said it was the distressed sound of meows that caught the firefighter’s attention.

Her leg was caught between two slats in the side of the bin and she was badly injured.

"He called me and said ‘What do I do’? I told him to call 111 to activate a turnout."

A crew mobilised, went to the scene and prised the slats of the bin open with bolt cutters, freeing the kitten since named Fire by her rescuers.

Mr Gee said they were not sure what to do next so contacted the SPCA.

Wanaka-based Central Otago SPCA operations co-ordinator Emily Kerr was dispatched to pick up Fire and take her to Cromwell Vetlife before moving her to the SPCA-affiliated Vetlife clinic in Wanaka.

Cromwell Vetlife did not offer weekend care and it was clear from Fire’s injuries she was going to need round-the-clock care.

Vet John Neskudla said as she was a young cat it had been hoped her bones would heal and she would “come right”, but infection developed in her foot and was spreading, leaving amputation as the only option.

Provided there was no arthritis or problems in other joints, cats and dogs did well on three legs.

“They don’t have the same kind of anxieties a human would have going through similar surgery and Fire is already up and walking around. She will be able to jump, run, and probably hunt mice like the best of them."

Mr Neskudla said Fire’s stitches were due to come out this week and she would probably be discharged into the care of the SPCA in a fortnight.

“Fire has come along in leaps and bounds from the first day I saw her and she was terrified, hissing at me, whereas now she does a kind of a little dance when you go in to see her and meows and purrs.”

Mr Neskudla said Fire had a dedicated kennel in the clinic and staff visited her constantly, giving her hugs and pats, describing her as a "sweetheart". He and the other 20 staff would be sad to see her go.

Mr Gee said fellow firefighters suggested he take her when she had recovered because he already had a three-legged cat.

"They think she would complete a set."

Ms Kerr said posters would go up in Vetlife clinics and on the SPCA website when Fire was ready for adoption but did not anticipate difficulty in finding her a home because "she is so cute".

Vetlife business manager Rebecca Aitken said the cost of Fire’s treatment was covered partly by the ongoing agreement and partnership between Vetlife and SPCA.

A “very generous” donation from Wanaka Primary School year 8 pupils was also much appreciated.

To donate to Fire’s ongoing care go to: www.spca.nz/donate/givetofire

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